In the local vocabulary "neccio" is the word for chestnuts, going back centuries. The cultivation of chestnuts trees for their nuts goes back to around 1000 CE when a population increase led the inhabitants of this area to plant thousands of the trees in vast areas of unused land. In the area around Garfagnana a cultivar was created which is especially suited to the production of flour and chestnuts soon became the principal source of sustenance for the population.
Fruit, vegetables and desserts
Associazione Castanicoltori della Garfagnana
The drying of the chestnuts is historically done in structures created for the purpose where the chestnuts are dried above a low fire without a flame, the rising smoke slowly drying the nuts over about 40 days until their ready for shelling and grinding. Since the 1950s there have been more than 7000 drying structuresand about 250 mills.
Farina di Neccio della Garfagnana is a finely ground flour with a refined flavour, ranging in colour from white to dark ivory and with a strong chestnut scent. It is made from variety of chestnut types: Carpinese, Pontecosi, Mazzangaia, Pelosora, Rossola, Verdora, Nerona and Capannaccia; each offering a unique flavour.
Among the typical recipes made with this product are polenta, manafregoli (made by cooking the flour in milk), castagnaccio (a flat cake made with the flour, oil, walnuts and pinenuts) and necci (thin pancakes made with chestnut flour and cooked in special wrought iron plates with long handles, called testi).